PoliceTube: How Online Video is Helping Criminal Investigations

Youtube: A Place to share videos of yourself with those around you. What if those people were the Police? Would you still upload videos then?

Now more than ever before, Authorities are realising the power of online video; for making connections, for broadcasting appeals, and for finding the criminal who is responsible. We are all aware of CCTV and its effectiveness in monitoring the public. We are also aware of its impingement of privacy and the big brother culture of the world today.

You might think it is a bit of fun to upload a video of your friend mucking about causing crimes you don’t find particularly offensive. But you must remember that these videos are not anonymous. Police can track you down.

Amidst the Student Protests last December, hundreds if not thousands of crimes were committed, but for those unlucky enough to be filmed, it was only a matter of time until it got uploaded to the world wide web.

Every other day it seems that the BBC report stories of people being identified from amateur footage found online. Police are catching onto this and they’re becoming increasingly good at it. You can see the petrol bomb story on the BBC News website here.

Given the massive influence online video has in journalism, papers across Britain can link to the film on youtube, which will then encourage thousands of users to log on and have a look.

But Orwell can be kept at bay for the meantime, because by the same sword the Police fight by, the Police themselves can be slayed. See here for possible evidence of a Police man apparantly charging at protestors on horseback.

Online video is now not only helping convict civilians, but also helping with the conviction of the Police too.

To the right we see wheelchair-bound activist Jody McIntyre who was reportedly filmed being dragged from his wheelchair amidst the student protests. And below – the video footage which was uploaded to youtube that sparked controversy late last year.

Online Video has also helped police in a pro-active sense: They have now started uploading their own, in a bid to crack down on crime.  Thames Valley Police Unit in particular have taken this stance and issued videos asking for any witnesses to come forward with any informati0n they may have. They have asked for info on a 14 year old knee-capping via youtube and this morning on a case regarding sexual assault. See video below:

Yesterday it was announced that High Definition CCTV systems are currently being tested across the UK that are up to 50 times more powerful than traditional CCTV cams. They have thus far been installed at local authorities and service stations, and the Aviva stadium is reportedly using them.

Looks like we’ll soon see new CCTV footage in HD quality on youtube soon! Talk about getting with the times eh!



Why Charities are Embracing Online Video Journalism

It’s not just the media that’s embracing cheaper forms of broadcasting video journalism content. There is a whole wave of new age charities embracing not only social media but also online video journalism, capitalising on the latest, cheapest broadcast platform.

Non-profit organizations have quickly cottoned onto the social media trend as a hugely beneficial tool for communicating their cause to anyone connected to the internet which is estimated to be 1,407,724,920 people or around 21% of the world’s population.

Not only have charity campaigns flooded social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, these organizations have increasingly embraced the use of online video journalism to advertise their campaigns in an extremely cost effective way.

Case Study 1: Oxfam

Oxfam has a section of its website devoted to campaign videos. Oxfam also has dedicated YouTube channels – Oxfam America and Oxfam Great Britain. Oxfam says that by letting people ‘see it, share it and change it’, they can help fight poverty and injustice by spreading the word using new media platforms. The channels feature videos about many of the charity’s different operations around the world. Check out this video below featuring a report on coffee giant Starbucks and its economic relationship with coffee farmers in Africa.

Case Study 2: Unicef

Unicef has a section of its website totally dedicated to blogs about their different campaigns. They also have a section just for Audio and Video. And of course they have a YouTube channel where Unicef TV is broadcast to its millions of viewers. Check out this report below on the increasing number of families crossing the border into Tunisia to escape the current crisis in Libya.

Case Study 3: Greenpeace

Greenpeace has a section of its website which showcases campaign promos, animations and video blogs. The organisation encourages other groups or individuals to spread the videos by embedding them on other websites. The channel has thousands of subscribers and has had over 13,850,000 channels views.

The video below is about a Chinese photographer Lu Guang. He documented the oil spill at the city of Dalian for Greenpeace. His pictures depict the death of firefighter Zhang Liang and won him a World Press Photo award in 2011. The online videos Greenpeace produces are of high quality both technically and journalistically, often covering very newsworthy stories from the corners of the globe.



Given that large charities such as the NSPCC spends millions on advertising on TV, it’s more than likely they will increasingly rely on the internet as a cheaper, faster and in some cases more accessibly media platform.


Natasha Malcolm-Brown

Andrew Lansley – It’s a RAP!

I was astonished the other day to walk past my dad’s study and hear some hardcore rap beats pumping out of there. Now my dad is quite big on his music but I have never heard him listening to rap before. So I went inside to investigate and found him watching Loughborough rapper MC NxtGen’s video slating Andrew Lansley and his NHS reforms.

Now as a surgeon working in the NHS, it is a subject that is very important to my father but I still didn’t expect him to be watching a video such as this and enjoying it. I mean he could understand the quick flow of MC NxtGen and was left in stitches by his clever word play and well produced video.

MC NxtGen (real name Sean Donelly) has found himself a viral YouTube and Twitter celebrity after posting his video just over a week ago. Since then it has amassed over 150,000 views and seen Sean whose day job is as a binman featured in the Guardian and the BBC News website.

The song has it all, brilliant lyrics over a sample from one of my favourite songs, The House of the Rising Sun and a well shot, funny video. The rap features some great lines including, “The NHS is not for sale, you grey-haired manky codger!” with the hook repeating over again, “ Andrew Lansley, GREEDY, Andrew Lansley, TOSSER!” However what makes this rap so good is that NxtGen has done his research and knows his stuff.

Now as the state of the NHS is something that interests me, I have done a lot of research into it before for a documentary I made, but I found the way that NxtGen explained it in three minutes, was better than any politician or even NHS staff member managed in more than thirty when I spoke to them.

Take these lines for example, “So the budget of the PCTs, he wants to hand to the GPs / Oh please. Dumb geeks are gonna buy from any willing provider, / Get care from private companies.”

“These plans have been slammed by patient organizations/ Charities, unions, nursing and medical institutions/ The Royal College of GP’s even joined the attack/ Looked closely at the proposals/ and said they were crap.”

MC NxtGen

NxtGen has tapped into a deep well of feeling amongst the British people of uncertainty and wariness of these reforms. The idea for the rap actually came about because he has family and friends who hope to work in the NHS but are worried by the cuts. So in his own way NxtGen decided to do something about it, and to speak out and judging by the rapidly increasing number of viewers every day to his video, the comments left and his growing Facebook and Twitter pages it seems a lot of people agree with him.

Even Andrew Lansley himself couldn’t help but admire the 22 year old whilst still trying to defend his policies. The Health Secretary said, “We will never privatize the NHS but I’m impressed that he’s managed to get lyrics about GP commissioning into a rap.”

For me this video goes to show that video journalism can come in many different forms, our hands are not just tied by a strict news package type formula. MC NxtGen gives us his take on the story in an informative and entertaining way through the power of music accompanied with a video that would not look out of place on MTV.

In the rap world, when one rapper releases a song ‘dissing’ another then the other rapper usually releases his own diss record in response and the ensuing ‘beef’ can engulf the entire music industry – think Biggie and Tupac. So we all wait anxiously for MC Lansley’s musical retort.

Andrew Lansley being told somebody has beef with him

I think we may be waiting a while.

You can view MC NxtGen’s Facebook page here, and follow him on Twitter here. He is hoping for the Andrew Lansley Rap to be released on iTunes in the coming days.

Yianni Meleagros

Experimenting with online video – London TUC Protest

On Saturday 26th March 2011 half a million people descended on the streets of London to take part in the march organised by the Trade Union Congress. Whilst they came for different reasons, protestors were united in their message to the coalition government – stop the cuts.

As an aspiring video blogger, I thought I’d head down to the march and take some footage. It shows that with a basic camera phone and the use of an editing programme – which you can download for free online using Jay Cut – you can produce a video perfectly acceptable for online blogging or citizen journalism. I uploaded it to my YouTube Channel

Check it out below – feel free to leave any comments!

Natasha Malcolm-Brown

New Left Media

New Left Media is a new generation news YouTube channel started by Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll. They are currently students at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and therefore a huge inspiration for me. Their news videos have a huge online following for many reasons that I can think of. They are extremely professional and objective when doing their interviews and update their channel on a regular basis. Their topics are always up to date and follow the issues concerning the US population.

Below are some of my favorite videos, the best one for me is the Sarah Palin book signing, where I actually laughed out loud…which hasn’t happened to me ever while watching news stories! At the same time I also understood what was going on and got to grasp the views of the public.

For the covering of the “Rally to Restore Sanity” called by for Jon Stewart on his show Whiteside and Stoll received over 126,540 hits on YouTube. The demonstrators expressed their concerns about the deterioration of state news and hyperbolic content of 24/7 news channels. However, when asked which news outlets they watch the general answer was Jon Stewart’s show – a comedy show as their primary news source or other partisan news shows such as the Daily Show.

Sarah Palin Book signing – interviews with supporters:

Again they only stayed for about 90 minutes to do these interviews and didn’t cherry pick their interviewees. They are real investigative journalists that go at a topic objectively.

Chase and Erick went to the March of Equality on October 11 to support full equality in all 50 states for the LGBT community. They interviewed Cleve Jones, the National Equality March Organiser, and members of the LGBT community on their views of Obama and the Human Rights Campaign.

Chase Whiteside also made an It gets better video (in reference to my earlier blog about the campaign) to fight bullying and hate at work and school places which has over 43,034 hits on YouTube.

Over 1,800 people gathered outside House Minority Leader John Boehner’s district office in West Chester Ohio to show him that there are many people in the US supporting the public health care option and Obama’s policies. This protest came after John Boehner publicly claimed that he didn’t know a single American who was for the public option.

Have you ever heard of New Left Media? Leave your comments below.

Jil D.

Interview: Harmit Kambo on forensic journalism and the future of the audio slideshow

Harmit Kambo is an innovative online journalist [see post 10 pioneers in online video journalism] focusing on a niche form of online video: the audio slideshow. Having trained at the LCC in photography, he has developed a wide ranging portfolio through work on various projects with charities and campaign groups, including the multi-story, multi-platform Environmental Justice project. His work combines stills with music, text, voices, ambient sounds and sometimes video.

LHG: You trained as a photojournalist and documentary photographer; what made you decide to focus on producing audio slideshows?

HK: Firstly, I should say I love photography books, and photos on gallery walls. And I think photography in these forms will always find an audience.

However, these avenues can be expensive, and arguably only really available to you once you attain a certain level of success. While you can self-publish easily and relatively cheaply these days, I would question what kind of audience your book will actually find. And while you can probably find an exhibition space on the cheap, how many people are really going to see it?

For me, I’m not a just a photojournalist for the love of it. I want my work to be seen, and by as many people as possible. So, of course, the internet is the right platform for me.

But just placing still images on a website would be like some of the first movies – which were a camera trained on a theatre stage. Movies quickly evolved into a separate form than theatre, playing to the possibilities of the format.

In the same way, I’m one of a number of photographers who wants to use photographs in a way that plays to the strengths of the web platform. For me, photographs are just one aspect of the story. Music, text, voices, ambient sounds combined carefully with stills (and indeed video) are all vital components in online photo-based storytelling.

So, I see audio slideshows as the best way of showing images online.

LHG: Tell us about the most memorable project you’ve worked on?

HK: I see a lot of fantastic photography and photojournalism, but sometimes, even in the best work, I think the narrative can be simplistic. You’re often told what to think by the photojournalist. They can also be highly selective in what they present, to strengthen their argument. So, while I respect photojournalists as photographers, I do think many are actually poor journalists. It was with this in mind, that I set out to undertake a project in a way that I think it should be done.

I worked on a massive project last year called Stories of Environmental (In)Justice . It is made up of 27 different stories, 11 of which are multimedia, others are stills accompanied by a separate audio track, and others are short audio. So, rather than it being a multimedia piece, I see it as a multi-platform piece. The Environmental Justice project was my attempt at being a fairly ‘forensic’ journalist, looking at an issue in detail, providing balance and analysis.

The whole project, from start to finish, was completed over 3 month period. I spent time in 3 different parts of the UK, conducted 20 in-depth interviews, invited a number of people to write blogs, worked closely with an academic research and an activist, to create what I think was an in-depth, engaging, photography based analysis of a complex issue.

LHG: Your recent audio slideshow, Down the local, was published by BBC.co.uk. Do you think audio slideshows have a permanent place in the online journalism landscape?

HK: Yes and no.

Just in the last few years, we have seen that major media players such as the BBC and the Guardian are using a lot more audio slideshows and videos instead of the traditional text-based article with an accompanying image.

So, as print newspapers continue to decline, and content increasingly becomes geared towards being delivered online (the iPad and Kindle have recently ushered in the next stage of the cultural shift from paper to pixel), we’ll be reading less and less, and watching more and more. The balance between these elements will vary from one publication to another but we will see fewer single stills and more slideshows and videos – because the technology makes it easy to do so now.

However, I’m not sure how long the ‘audio slideshow’ format will survive. It’s a format that still lacks definition and shape. I mean, really, what is it? Is it a documentary? Is it just a way of presenting photographs? How long should a slideshow be (we can all agree that a movie should be roughly 90-110 minutes, with a few 3 hour epics around, and that a documentary can be between 30-90 minutes), but who can really define the ‘audio sideshow’ form.

Even though I’m a real fan and champion of it, I wonder if it already looks a bit ‘quaint’, and that the technology’s already moved on, just as it’s starting to get recognised. Professional digital SLRs now have HD video capability, and over the last two years, I’ve started to see a lot more video from people who might still call themselves photographers.

So, what we currently see as audio slideshows, based on stills, might mutate into short documentaries, based on video.

We can speculate about the direction that this will head in. But what is clear is that photographers who want to find an audience through the internet, need to be thinking beyond photographs, but also be thinking about audio, text, graphics and, of course, video.

Down the local: The Marquis of Lorne

You can view the BBC version here.

Laura Heighton-Ginns

Self- reporting for self-defence: How Anonymous uses video journalism to protect themselves:

The online group ‘Anonymous’ has been credited with various online campaigns from the mischievous to the controversial to the bizarre. Their activities range from releasing spoilers on the plot of the Harry Potter novels to bringing down major credit card websites as a response to what they perceive as abuses of power. They have been called cyberterrorists, pranksters, and perhaps most famously as ‘hackers on steroids’

However they are perhaps best known for their campaigns against the Church of Scientology. This movement, known as Project Chanology has seen Anonymous members leave the online world and take to the streets to protest against the Church –which they argue is a dangerous cult.

Footage of protests is hardly unusual (we need only think back to the student riots) but what makes these videos different is the fact that they have been filmed by the protestors themselves both to publicise their campaign and, they argue, to protect themselves from the Church of Scientology.

The Church is known to film its critics without their permission – a phenomenon witnessed first-hand by John Sweeney when filming a Panorama episode on the group.

The ‘Fair-Game’ policy to which Sweeney refers supposedly advises Scientologists to use extreme methods to oppose critics including long-term harassment.

For Anonymous the most effective way to combat the Church is to use their own methods against them – in this case, filming Scientology agents who arrive at the demonstrations and attempt to film unmasked protestors.

And for now, these techniques seem to work. As a controversial movement for which media management is an extremely high priority, the Church is highly sensitive to bad press.

Protest videos that show actions against a corrupt Government are inherently limited by the regime’s power to suppress access to the internet. The Church of Scientology has no such countermeasure.

By using simple and cheap recording equipment and the internet as a platform Anonymous are able to reach a vast audience with any evidence they have of wrongdoing on the part of the Church.

I have previously written on the shortcomings of online video as a revolutionary tool in the Middle East. There, the power of the regime to control the online world inevitably limits the power of online activism. But in the case of Project Chanology where the state imposes little or no restriction on the protestors online campaigns, it seems that the pen, and its descendant the computer, is still mightier than the sword.

By Alan O’Doherty